Businesses enlisted to help combat modern slavery

Posted on: 18 October 2018

Businesses across Devon and Cornwall will be given help and training to recognise the signs of modern day slavery and how to report it.

The new scheme is being launched on National Anti-slavery Day (Thursday 18 October) by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards (DSTTSS) and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, who are enlisting trusted local businesses in the fight against modern day slavery.

It follows data released by the National Crime Agency that there were 5145 potential victims of human trafficking and modern day slavery in 2017, a 35 per cent increase on the previous year.

Modern day slavery includes human trafficking, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, forced labour and forced criminality.

From December a small team of specialised trading standards auditors will be trained in an initial pilot.
They will then pass what they have learned to trusted local traders who are part of the Buy With Confidence scheme (BWC).

BWC is a national directory of trading standards-approved businesses who have demonstrated that they trade in a fair, honest and legal way.

Once the pilot is completed the aim is to roll the scheme out across the country – BWC includes more than 4,000 trusted traders all over the UK.

Police rely heavily on intelligence from members of the public in their fight against modern slavery and
there are often clear signs which can suggest if someone is being exploited.

The training will help traders know what to look out for when dealing with other businesses in their supply chains and community.

Providing businesses with the skills to recognise and report modern slavery not only creates an invaluable new intelligence network but it helps to marginalise the unscrupulous who may choose to flout the law by promoting ethical and trusted traders over them.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for

Cllr Rufus Gilbert

Cllr Rufus Gilbert

Economy and Skills including Trading Standards said: “Most businesses trade in a fair, honest and legal way but there is a minority who profit off the backs of human misery. Members of Buy With Confidence are well placed to spot the signs of modern slavery and help ensure that
exploitation, trafficking and abuse of vulnerable people is stamped out.”

Paul Thomas, Head of Devon Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service and member of the Buy With Confidence National Strategy Group said: “Buy With Confidence exists to connect consumers with fair, honest, legally compliant businesses who’ve committed to excellent customer service.
“Raising awareness of modern day slavery throughout our membership and obtaining commitment to stamp out this appalling practice nationally is a natural next step and helps our members to show they’re a business their customers can trust.”

Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly said: “This is a real opportunity to raise awareness of modern slavery and the measures that businesses can take to ensure that they do not contribute to this horrific organised crime.
“Businesses that have unethical supply chains or use forced labour can have a considerable impact on reputable businesses – this type of business crime needs to be stamped out and everything will be done to prosecute any business owners who are involved in modern slavery of any kind.”

• You can report suspected cases of modern slavery to police online or by calling the modern slavery helping on 08000 121 700 or download the Unseen app

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